This exhibit is a collection of old lamps and clocks, owned by Regional Ethnographic Museum – Plovdiv. Here you can trace the historical development of time measuring and lighting equipment.
The history of time measuring devices starts with the first clocks in the Ancient world with accuracy to one minute and continues with today’s clocks measuring time to one-millionth of the second. The development and improvement of clockworks is among the fascinating pages about the struggle of human genius to understand and subdue natural forces.
Water clocks were called by the Greeks “clepsydre”, which means literally “stealer of water”. This type of clock measures time by the water that flows out of it and has been collected in the lower vessel with time indications. Fire clocks were usually a meter-long candle with a scale applied at the length. They have been used for a long time not only because they are relatively accurate, but also because of their shining function.
Sun dials are the first simple instruments for time measurement. They have an object with sharp and long shadow – gnomon and a dial with divisions corresponding to the hours. Sand clocks are made of two funnel glass vessels connected with a specific width of the opening and a precise amount of sand that pours into one or other part of the dial.
The idea for time and different methods for thinking, structuring and measuring it has a leading part in the conception of the exhibit. Since ancient times people not only lived in time, they tried to rationalize its nature, and every epoch discovered its specific idea of time’s nature.
The exhibition features samples of timepieces made by notorious English brands as “Ralph Gout”, “George Prior”, “Edward Prior”, etc. The oldest object is a pocket watch “Ralph Gout” from 1722. It was made of silver with silver dial and three protective lids corresponding to the requirements for watch protection at the time. It is richly decorated with silver engravings, tortoise shell and rubies.
While the clock measures time both day and night, the light dispels the darkness of the night and drives away instinctive fears. The flame is magical. To conquer it people invented different light sources and methods of using light.
The darkness was first fought by pinewood, candles and clay lamps burning vegetable oil or animal fat. Later lamps were improved in material and form. Some of them were so sophisticated that they shaded the very source of light for the sake of being perfect in shape and elaborate in decoration.
According to the production technology, the lamps in Regional Ethnographic Museum – Plovdiv are divided into several types: tin lamps, porcelain lamps, white and colour marble lamps, ceramic lamps and Devarda's Alloy lamps. Tin lamps are the prevailing part of this collection. They are made of tin and zinc and are covered with precious metal. Devarda's Alloy lamps are made of zinc coated in metal.
In this exhibition you can see a gas lamp that belonged to the first major of the city of Plovdiv – Atanas Samokovliev. It is tin lamp produced by “Ditmar Brünner” in Germany. It has a bronze stem and round base with four legs richly adorned with cast metal geometric figures and cherubs. The metal wick part is laced with tracery ornaments and a round adjusting mechanism.
Exhibition curator — Biliana Popova
Curator — Lora Hristozova
Virtual exhibition — Stefana Mincheva
Photographer — Yanko Kavrakov